How to get LTL freight quotes on your online store when you use more than one LTL freight carrier.
Eniture Technology publishes several LTL Freight Quote products for the following e-commerce platforms:
Depending on the platform, these products are called apps, extensions, modules, or plugins. For this article, I'll use apps to refer to all of them.
Each app is for a different carrier (company). If you want to offer rates for more than one carrier during checkout, you'll need to install the app for each one. There's a charge for each app, so it can get expensive if you install more than a few apps.
Offer Unbranded Quotes To Reduce Cost
Each of the LTL Freight Quotes apps has a Label As setting. You can install one app and use the setting to have quotes presented to your customer as Freight, LTL Freight, or Shipping, instead of the carrier's name. By offering an unbranded quote, you won't set an expectation for which carrier will be delivering the order, freeing you up to ship the order with the carrier of your choosing.
When you receive an order, you can check with all of the carriers you use and ship the order with the cheapest one. If the carrier you select is less expensive than the amount you collected on the order, you can pocket the difference.
The Benefits Of Offering Choices
Advocates for installing more than one app want their customers to be able to choose from a list of branded choices. Customers can select a carrier based on brand preference, cost, and time-in-transit. If you offer your customers branded options, be sure to honor their selection. If a different LTL carrier delivers the order, you may be asked to reimburse the shipping charges.
Another benefit of installing multiple apps is redundancy. The apps retrieve your negotiated rates by communicating with the carrier's Application Programming Interface (API). On rare occasions, a carrier's servers may go offline due to planned system maintenance or unexpected failure. Having two or more apps installed ensures that your customers will continue to get options for LTL freight if one carrier's API is temporarily unavailable. The uptime of carrier APIs is typically 98% or better.
If you choose to install more than one app, each of them will return rates to the checkout page. The results will be sorted by price in ascending order, and your customers will be able to choose from the options listed.
Use A 3PL As An Alternative
In addition to having apps for LTL freight carriers, we also have apps for Third Party Logistics (3PL) providers. 3PLs have contracts with many, and in some cases, dozens of LTL freight carriers. Through a single account relationship with a 3PL, you can have access to all of the carriers in its portfolio.
As a result of this one-to-many relationship, you can install one app related to a 3PL and have it offer rates for many carriers. Be aware, though, that your account relationship is with the 3PL and not the carrier.
The 3PL will expect you to ship your orders through it. If you don't, the 3PL may cancel your account without notice. Hours or days may pass before you realize that the 3PL canceled your account. While this goes unnoticed, your online store won't be offering LTL freight as a shipping option during checkout. (Unless, of course, you have another LTL Freight Quote app installed.)
There are pros and cons to using a 3PL. If you want to offer more than one branded LTL freight quote to your online shoppers, 3PLs are a good alternative to installing multiple LTL Freight Quote apps.
Eniture Technology has LTL Freight Quote apps for the following 3PLs:
- Cerasis (Magento, Prestashop, Shopify, Woocommerce)
- Echo Logistics (Woocommerce)
- FreightQuote.com (Shopify, Woocommerce)
- Unishippers (Woocommerce)
- Worldwide Express (Magento, Shopify, Woocommerce)
Use A TMS As An Alternative
A Transportation Management System (TMS) will let you enable your LTL freight carrier accounts in it. Then you can use the TMS system to get quotes and book shipments with all of your carrier accounts in one place. Using a TMS differs from having an account with a 3PL because you're using your direct carrier accounts. You're not accessing carriers indirectly through a 3PL.
If the TMS has an API, it's possible to get quotes for all of your enabled carrier accounts in one API transaction. You can install one LTL Freight Quote app for a TMS and give your online shoppers a list of branded choices.
While this sounds like a great alternative, there are some disadvantages. In addition to paying for the TMS, there's now another intermediary between your customer and your carrier. It's another point of potential failure, and it will take more time to retrieve shipping quotes. If it takes too long, it can increase your cart abandonment rate. You may also lose access to some features depending on how robust the TMS's integration is with your carriers.
Eniture Technology has LTL Freight Quote apps for the following TMSs:
- Cortigo TMS (Magento, Prestashop, Shopify, Woocommerce)
- Freightview (Woocommerce)